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Be Careful What You Are Talked Into Doing to a Webcam

Be Careful What You Are Talked Into Doing to a Webcam

Many people and most politicos, it seems, are unable to resist the appeal of social media and microphones left turned on when they make jackasses of themselves. Easily done, if you don’t keep your wits about you.

But now comes news of a scam that works on the arrogance, greed, lust and possible stupidity of some people, mainly men. Or, as one female famously put it, ‘men only think with their lower part, not their upper brain’.

Internet Blackmail

West Yorkshire Police are investigating the case of a 20 year old man who was chatting online to what he assumed was a woman from California on holiday in the Philippines. Things were progressing along the lines of getting to know you, finding lots in common. She looked at his Facebook page.

She then upped the stakes and offered to talk on Skype. So he saw that she was an attractive lady, just his type. He added her to his Facebook friends. The conversation became more sexually angled and she said she would strip for him…. but only if he did it first!

So, of course, he did.

Turning Nasty

She then threatened to upload the video she’d taken to YouTube unless he paid $200 into an online account which was based in the Philippines.

To concentrate his mind and demonstrate she was serious, His Facebook friends’ list, including his mother, sister, uncles and cousins were the next target and she said they’d all get the images of him undressing unless the money was transferred.

As is the way with blackmailers, they always want more. She repeatedly called him over two days demanding more money. Then he called in the police.

Det Sgt Michael Casey told the media, ‘due to the sensitive nature of the scam I believe a large number of similar offences will have taken place across the world with a significant number never being reported.’

All Around the World

The scam is not confined to Britain. CNN reported in February 2013 that in Singapore there is a ring or rings of online scam artists who use attractive women to ‘friend’ victims on social sites, ‘seduce them into cybersex on webcams and then threaten to post images online unless they pay up.’

In most cases, these women undress first to put the victim at complete ease, often encouraging them to perform sex acts to the screen (and camera). There were 50 cases reported in 2012 alone.

CNN reported Graham Cluley of Web security firm Sophos who warned that if such a scam spreads, it could encompass more than just blackmail. He said that eager victims could be persuaded to click on a dodgy link and find their who computer compromised in seconds.

Singapore Police issued  a warning about befriending strangers on social networks, giving out personal details or ‘performing compromising acts’.

Graham Cluley put it more succinctly: ‘Be careful out there, and keep your trousers on, chaps.’

Other scams to watch out for:

Hidden Charges Are the Sting in the Tail of Online Shopping, 4 December 2012

Scams Are Out to Get You, Online and Off, 21 May 2012

Image: Simon Wedege Petersen